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How to start photography business?
Old 04-15-2007, 07:50 PM   #1
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How to start photography business?

I love photography and I REALLY love digital photography and using Photoshop. I'm good with animals and people and would love to start a part-time portrait business focusing on animals and their human pets. I'm thinking that I would need to take some professional level classes and maybe a small business accounting class and learn more about marketing. I'm not planning to earn a lot of money with this.

My start up costs would be a good digital SLR, and some classes, business cards, advertising. And a web site. And, oh yeah, maybe a Mac laptop. This is adding up $$$. What else?

Is anyone a professional photographer? What else do I need to consider? What are the difficulties that I might encounter as a beginner?
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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-15-2007, 08:26 PM   #2
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Re: How to start photography business?

I think audreyh and her DH are professional-level photographers.

Hopefully her RV is at a site where she is able to access this board and she will respond soon.

omni
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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-15-2007, 09:11 PM   #3
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Re: How to start photography business?

Oldbabe,
Just an idea FWIW: A few years ago we had our pet's portrait taken at the local Petsmart. The photographer was really surprised when we showed up with a hamster, but she did a great job and we always get a chuckle when we see these old pictures. Anyway, I think this might be a great way to get started--you'd just do it a couple times a month, people make appointments and you do all your shooting there. Promotion would primarily be via flyer at the Petsmart (lots of very devoted animal folks go there). I don't know how the proceeds would be split with the store, but it's still likely to be far cheaper than setting up your own studio. Finally, you might offer to sweeten the deal by giving a certain amount to an animal-related cause (it would be a good selling point on your flyer).

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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-16-2007, 07:28 PM   #4
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Re: How to start photography business?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldbabe
I love photography and I REALLY love digital photography and using Photoshop.
I think you quoted me!

My husband and I are "professional-level" but we don't run it as a business. Nature photography is highly competitive (very crowded) and the business side of it can really drag you down - requiring a lot of marketing. Many of our friends use a stock agency and make some money at it on the side which helps fund their hobby somewhat. But still it took them many years and a lot of work to become well established. We really enjoy the luxury of NOT trying to make any money at photography at all, but instead focus on the aspects we enjoy the most. For us photography is all about having great fun in the field, capturing/creating powerful images, and then sharing them.

People want to buy our photographs all the time, but we really love giving away the fine prints (the art of digital printing is also a major area we developed expertise in). More and more state parks are displaying our stuff - all donated of course.

John Shaw wrote a book about the nature photography business. That might be a good place to start.

Understand our bias - we are philosophically opposed to "work for hire" so that definitely colors the path we follow. I suppose we are afraid that turning our beloved hobby/avocation into a business would "ruin" it. I suspect in our case we would be right. We don't think our "rules" apply to anyone else, however!

Audrey
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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-16-2007, 09:42 PM   #5
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Re: How to start photography business?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldbabe
Is anyone a professional photographer? What else do I need to consider? What are the difficulties that I might encounter as a beginner?
I've shot professionally and worked with and around pro photographers over the years. It's an extremely competitive field. As much as creative ability, your salesmanship will determine your success rate. Plus luck. Everyone has both digital cameras and digicams these days, requiring you to be exceptionally skilled, a master of marketing, lucky and/or connected....just to break even.

If you have identified a specialty, then shoot thousands of images, develop your portfolio, launch a website, join the pro associations, and make a name for yourself.

Or, like the rest of us FIRE-types...enjoy the hobby!
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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-21-2007, 06:04 AM   #6
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Re: How to start photography business?

always dreamed of being a photographer for national pornographic , oops i mean geographic
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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-21-2007, 06:31 AM   #7
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Re: How to start photography business?

Quote:
I'm not planning to earn a lot of money with this.
Thats good...because you probably won't. Very few people make a good living taking pictures, lots of people do it for a living but its a very underpaid profession by and large, except for the lucky few who have exceptional talent, a great marketing plan and work very very hard at it...

Browse the classifieds sometime and see what the starting pay is for newspaper photographers and such...its pitifully low...not much more than a greeter at walmart in many cases.

On the otherhand, if you just love taking pictures - you can have lots of fun for not a lot of money; maybe even sell a few shots once in a while to cover some costs...its a very very competitive field though and I wouldn't want to have to support myself doing it.
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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-22-2007, 07:32 AM   #8
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Re: How to start photography business?

OldBabe,

Did you see the April 15th NYTimes article on starting a photography business?

The article described exactly your starting message in this thread. Lots of women have become niche providers of photos for their friends and families and that in turn has branched out to a small business. I do alot of the same stuff myself, but just give away the photos even though many folks insist on paying. I have met several "mom" photographers who decided to turn it into a small business.
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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-22-2007, 12:49 PM   #9
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Re: How to start photography business?

Quote:
My start up costs would be a good digital SLR, and some classes, business cards, advertising. And a web site. And, oh yeah, maybe a Mac laptop. This is adding up $$$. What else?
The business cards and web site don't have to cost you anything. You should be able to design your own business card and print them out on Avery business card paper. Make only 100 or so at at time.

You may already have free web space from your Internet service provider. If not, you can check out free web space places on the Internet.

Advertising can be cheap if you're clever. Cute press releases with some of your pictures can be picked up by the press and give you free publicity.

Note that you don't have to jump in with both feet. You can bootstrap up. Try some things, sell some photos, get better equipment as you go.

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Re: How to start photography business?
Old 04-22-2007, 09:06 PM   #10
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Re: How to start photography business?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL!
OldBabe,

Did you see the April 15th NYTimes article on starting a photography business?
Yeah, you caught me! That article got my mental wheels turning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
The business cards and web site don't have to cost you anything. You should be able to design your own business card and print them out on Avery business card paper. Make only 100 or so at at time.
Thanks, TromboneAl. That makes a lot of sense to me, especially in the beginning.
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